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Organizational decision-making and emotional basket-cases

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I caught this posting on Seth Godin’s blog ( quoted in full below)

Seth points out a behavior that you can see in almost every organization.  For some people, in some cases, emotion takes precedence over other factors in making organizational decision.  And by “emotional” I mean a person’s desire to “demonstrate dominance”, defend a fiefdom”, “not be wrong”, not give in to another person.. which shows submission and lack of power”, and a whole boat load of emotional factors.

Are we on the same team?  Are we after the same (measurable) organizational goals?  Sometime, people are in the game only for themselves and the “emotional bump” they get in playing a role.

We could put the same question this way, “Are we mature”?

On the corporate ladder such “emotional basket cases” get weeded out, passed over for promotion, before they get too far where this sort of emotion-based decision-making can undermine the performance of an organization (read: How to undermine an organization)

In smaller organization, emotion-based decision-making to the detriment of the organization can be easily seen.  Not that I am a fan of (so-called) reality shows… but the TRU-TV show Hard Core Pawn  often shows vivid examples.  In this family owned Pawn shop in Detroit the brother and sister seem to be constant competing for control and dominance of the various departments in the store.  I have yet to hear them suggest a fact-based (measurable result) method as to who is the best manager.  It seems to come down to back-stabbing, shouting matches, and crying to get control.

As an organization matures, focus in on results.  “Power” is power to produce benefits and outcomes for stakeholders – not power as fiefdoms, dominance, or power over other people so someone gets their way – no matter what.

As far as politicians, some are criticized for flip-flopping – changing their mind.

That should be a sign of maturity.

I like this quote from John Maynard Keynes:

“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

If the facts change, but you don’t change your mind.. because you “can’t be wrong”, can’t stand to “lose power”, or are playing some sort of zero-sum game  then I think you become an  example – for all to see – of someone who is basing decisions on personal emotions rather than on outcomes for stakeholders.

Expect your corporate career to be of limited success.

Seth’s posting cited above.

Are we on the same team? and

What’s the right path forward?

Most of time, all we talk about is the path, without having the far more important but much more difficult conversation about agendas, goals and tone.

Is this a matter of respect? Power? Do you come out ahead if I fail? Has someone undercut you? Do we both want the same thing to happen here?

The reason politics in my country is diverging so much from useful governance has nothing to do with useful conversations and insight into what the right path is. It’s because defeat and power and humiliation and money have replaced “doing what works for all of us” as the driving force in politics.

If you feel disrespected, the person you disagree with is not going to be a useful partner in figuring out what the right path going forward might be. If one party (employee/customer/investor) only wins when the other party loses, what’s the point of talking about anything but that?

Deal with the agenda items and the dignity problems first before you try to work out the right strategic choices.

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Written by frrl

September 12, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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